The Ninja Turtles (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or TMNT in its original version) are back. After the two Michael Bay-produced live-action films that arrived between 2014 and 2016, the brand has joined the new form of animation in films such as Spider-Man: A New Universe and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
The title of the movie is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and it is a reboot of the story of the four brothers that will be released on August 4 in the United States and on August 25 in Spain.
The film’s director is Jeff Rowe, who already won over animation fans in 2021 with the magnificent Netflix film The Mitchells vs. the Machines. In addition, the original version will feature the voices of top actors such as Jackie Chan, John Cena and the villain of The Mandalorian Giancarlo Esposito.
The synopsis of the feature film already promises a new change of point of view:
“A new generation of heroes is preparing to emerge… from the sewers. After years of protecting themselves from the human world and avoiding coming out of hiding, the Ninja Turtles have set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers with some heroic act. Together with their friend April O’Neil, the four will take on a mysterious crime syndicate and try to confront the army of mutants their enemies unleash on the city.”
The origin of the Ninja Turtles
The Ninja Turtles have not ceased to conquer the public since their conception. They have become icons of popular culture like few others, and since their conception they have not ceased to receive new series, film adaptations, video games, comics and all kinds of merchandising. But what is the secret of these four anthropomorphic animals?
In 1984, underground authors Kevin Eastman and Peter Laid launched the black-and-white comic Eastman and Laird’s Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a fanzine that simply wanted to make a kind of satire of Frank Miller, who was then triumphing worldwide thanks to his Daredevil. It was a peak moment for comics, with works increasingly closer to adult audiences, full of violence and themes considered more adult.
The origin of the Turtles’ powers was based on that of Daredevil himself, and the cover that accompanied this first volume was very similar to that of Ronin, another Miller comic. The idea was to do a single strip as a non-profit work, but it was so successful that they were offered to launch a collection at Mirage Studios.
The Ninja Turtles had such an impact on the comic book industry that they caused a small collapse between 1986 and 1987, when many other authors launched -unsuccessfully- to publish their own stories about anthropomorphic animals. But it was with their series, broadcast in 1987 on syndication and later on the CBS network, that the curious creatures made their impact on the imaginary of popular culture.
Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles reached the whole world through animated series, live-action movies, comic book sagas and even naming a new genre of prehistoric turtles -the Ninjemys-. And it achieved great success thanks to its ability to combine the dark and serious trend of the comics of the time -Watchmen, Daredevil or The Dark Knight– with a youthful and cheerful spirit that fit in with all audiences.
A turbulent story of highs and lows
Since their comic book debut in 1984, the Ninja Turtles have always been a resounding success. With their irreverent humor, ninja fighting style and love of pizza, these heroes managed to win over the reading public as well as the television audience. However, when it comes to their film adaptations, opinion has always been a little more divided.
The first Ninja Turtles movie hit theaters in 1990. Directed by Steve Barron, it was an incredible hit with audiences, making over $200 million on a budget of $13.5 million. However, not all audiences were pleased. Although they were epoch-making, many saw them as too “puppet-like”, and some called them childish.
This happened even more powerfully with the second part in 1991. On this occasion, the baton of direction passed to Michael Pressman. And, although the budget was higher, the quality decreased and the humor increased so much that many considered it a film only for children.
Finally came Ninja Turtles III, directed by Stuart Gillard, which was a critical and commercial flop, and it looked like the franchise was dead on the big screen. However, in 2007, the Ninja Turtles returned with a CGI animated film that received mixed reviews. And the rest is Michael Bay history.
Precisely, the tone found in the following adaptations, as well as in the video games (which also marked an epoch) has been the one that has marked the turtles until today. It is a fun and soft tone, but at the same time rebellious and with a punk touch that fits perfectly with more adult audiences.
Thanks to their gruffness, heavy doses of action and ominous portrayal of New York City, the Ninja Turtles remain an immovable icon of pop culture. And the upcoming animated film only seems to reinforce a formula that never seems to go out of style.